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The rush to execute

ays before the lower chamber starts the full debates on the death-penalty bill, a member of the so-called legitimate minority bloc said there is a growing support among members of the House of Representatives against the reimposition of capital punishment.

Liberal Party Rep. Teodoro B. Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao said his group, along with other lawmakers, is now preparing for a healthy and protracted debate on the proposal. “Well, we’re consolidating the antideath-penalty groups in Congress, [and] this is across party lines; galvanizing public support against death penalty; and compiling our research on reasons to oppose it,” Baguilat told the BusinessMirror. Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez has said No. 1 on the agenda of

the lower chamber when session resumes on January 16 is the full debates on death penalty and other anticrime measures. The death-penalty bill was principally authored by Alvarez.

Season of love

Baguilat, in a separate news statement, said he hoped his colleagues in Congress, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, would resolve to be more independent thinkers this year, and not pass the death-penalty bill.

“This is the season of love, salvation and hope; and I wish that my colleagues will be touched by the love of God and align their position against the death penalty,” Baguilat said. For his part, Majority Leader and PDP-Laban Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas of Ilocos Norte assured lawmakers they can all express their support, as well as their opposition, during the plenary debates of the bill. “Of course, [we will allow all Continued on A2

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By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz

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Flawed justice system makes experiment on capital punishment ‘highly dangerous’

The stimated percentage of wrongful executions the last time the Philippines experimented on the death penalty

Traders vow to oppose total import ban on meat, chicks 24,238.49 MT ore than a month after the Department of Agriculture (DA) imposed a total revalidation of all the sanitary phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-ICs), meat traders are now faced with a new problem: import bans. The DA has recently imposed a series of temporary bans on the importation of poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen from some areas in European countries.  The DA made the decision after the governments of England, France, Poland and the Nether-

The PHL’s chicken inventory as of January 2, 68.47 percent higher than the 14,387.06 MT recorded in the same period last year

lands confirmed to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) the outbreaks of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus in their respective countries. The temporary import bans were put into in early January in the following areas: South, East

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By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas

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PESO exchange rates n US 49.5300

n japan 0.4323 n UK 60.3028 n HK 6.3876 n CHINA 7.1886 n singapore 34.7189 n australia 37.1079 n EU 52.6207 n SAUDI arabia 13.2104

Source: BSP (13 January 2017 )


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The rush to execute Baguilat: “Indeed, the Constitution says there must be a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty, and there is none today.”

lawmakers to express their opposition, as well as their support to the bill],” Fariñas said in a text message.

Hasty moves

Moreover, Baguilat has urged the public to add their voice to the growing chorus calling for a stop to “hasty moves” in Congress to reimpose the death penalty. He said the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), have already taken a firm stance against the death penalty with the CBCP, saying that the abolition of the death penalty by the 1986 Constitution was “a very big step toward a practical recognition of the dignity of every human being created to the image and likeness of God, and the value of human life from its conception to its natural end.” “Indeed, the Constitution says there must be a compelling reason to reimpose the death penalty, and there is none today,” Baguilat said. He added that the plan to railroad the passage of the death penalty was a grave cause for concern, considering that it had already been established that death penalty would not deter the proliferation of crime. “It is not a deterrent. There is no reliable and credible data to show that it is,” Baguilat said. “That

Capital punishment was last suspended in 2006 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, Congress was overwhelmingly supportive of the tenet that life has value.  President Duterte, however, has consistently said he wanted it back as part of the package of measures to supposedly stop the proliferation of drugs and criminality.

Wrongful executions is why I am again appealing to my colleagues in Congress to not rush into passing such a bill and instead allow extensive and intelligent discussion.” The Ifugao representative also said the better move to undertake was to strengthen the justice system to make sure that justice is served quickly and that the criminals will go to jail. 

Flaws

“As it is, everybody is saying that the justice system is flawed. That means what we need is more reform to avoid wrongful convictions. Without reforms, what will happen is that the poor will again bear the consequence of the weakness and inconsistency in the application of the criminal justice system. We need to strengthen that first to make a more lasting impact on criminality. I have never believed in legislating this ultimate retribution,” Baguilat said.

Meanwhile, Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay said Duterte’s plan to send more than 2,000 men to the gallows within 12 months could easily result in hundreds of wrongful executions. “The last time the country experimented on the death penalty, the wrongful execution rate was around 15 percent. We expect this rate to shoot up, considering the administration’s apparent plan to quickly put to death a lot of people inside a very short period,” Atienza said. Earlier, Duterte stressed the urgency to reimpose capital punishment. “Restore it [death penalty] and I will execute criminals every day—five or six [and] that’s for real.” Atienza warned that “the country’s criminal justice system, with all its flaws and imperfections, is severely ill-equipped to handle another experiment on the death penalty.” “We have a corrupt and bun-

gling police force. Both our prosecution  service and trial courts are prone to sleaze and haphazardness. We have an overworked Public Attorney’s Office. And even the Supreme Court is weighed down by mounting docket pressures,” he said. According to Atienza, these factors, when combined, would make the next experiment on capital punishment “highly dangerous.” The lawmaker said the country’s law enforcement and prosecution arms still abound with illegal methods and rotten practices, including arbitrary arrests and searches, torture, intimidation, evidence-planting and the filing of defective charge sheets.

Offenses

Under the death-penalty bill, crimes punishable with death through  hanging, firing squad or lethal injection are treason; qualified piracy; qualified bribery; parricide; murder infanticide; rape;  kidnapping and serious illegal detention; robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons; destructive arson; plunder; importation of dangerous drugs and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; and maintenance of drug den. 

Also punishable by death are manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursor and essential chemicals; possession of dangerous drugs; cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs; unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs; criminal liability of public officer for misappropriation; misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated seized or surrendered drugs; criminal liability for planting evidence and carnapping. But Alvarez said the lower chamber may change the scope of the death-penalty bill, as they may focus only on illegal-drugs-related crimes.

Traders vow to oppose total import ban on meat, chicks

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Lindsey, Lincolnshire England (affecting house turkeys); Abbega, Friesland, the Netherlands (affecting laying hens); Almayrac, Tarn and Monbahus, Lot-et-Garonne, France (affecting birds); and Deszczno, Gorzowski, Lubuskie and Przemyski, Pordkarpackie in Poland.

Concern

“So far, the DA has been going about it the right way by imposing temporary bans on zones,” Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) President Jesus Cham told the BusinessMirror.  “What is of concern is the recent pronouncement that the bans will be expanded to cover entire countries. This is without scientific basis and will surely lead to controversy,” Cham added. Cham was referring to a Facebook post made by Agriculture chief Emmanuel F. Piñol  on January 8. In his Facebook page, Piñol  said he directed Assistant Secretary for Livestock Enrico Garzon to impose a total ban in the entirety of South Korea, Germany, France and the Netherlands. However, as of January 12, the DA is yet to release a memorandum regarding the ban covering the entirety of the said countries. Piñol added that the only countries allowed to export poultry products to the Philippines are the US, Canada and Australia, the major sources of imported poultry products. “All other countries which are not listed here as exempt from the ban will also be temporarily banned from exporting chicken, eggs and ducks and other poultry products to the Philippines pending a review of their health status,” Piñol said.

Price-hike fears

Should the DA pushes through with a temporary ban in all the Philippines’s trading partners but for United States, Australia and Canada, Cham said it would surely trigger a price hike of meat locally. “The processors will be severely impacted as the import of chicken mdm [mechanically deboned

meat] is substantial. Other origins will take advantage by raising prices to processors and [the] increase may be passed on to consumers,” Cham said. “Even a few cents’ increase will mean a lot of money when multiplied by tons. We will see when the Philippines institutes the ban,” Cham added. Should the Filipino consumers be wary about the recent bird-flu outbreaks in the European region? Cham said no. “I believe this particular birdflu strain has not been known to infect humans. Furthermore, all imports are covered by health certificates, so there is absolutely no concern in this regard,” he said.

Barrier vs bird flu

With the bans in place, Manila has suspended the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance of domestic and wild birds and poultry products from the four European countries. The DA warned that it will confiscate all shipments of the banned commodities originating from HPAI-affected areas in the four European countries. The ban does not cover heat-treated products. “Frozen poultry meat with slaughter/process date of 21 days prior to the HPAI outbreaks are allowed to enter the country subject to veterinary quarantine rules and regulations,” Piñol said. Manila usually imposes a temporary ban on poultry products from areas where there are HPAI outbreaks as a preventive measure. Currently, the Philippines is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that remains free from the dreaded avian influenza virus. The virus, which resurfaced in Asia in 2003, crippled poultry industries in neighboring countries, like Vietnam. “I expect to receive complaints and requests for reconsideration from the countries affected by the ban, but I am appealing to our trading partners to understand our position,” Piñol said. “The Philippines’s poultry, egg and duck industries are the sources of livelihood of millions of Filipino

farmers. Any outbreak of diseases in the sector will have a devastating effect on the lives of many poor Filipinos, not to mention the threat to the health of our people,” Piñol added. To date, there has been no cases of human infection with H5N8 HPAI since its discovery, according to the World Health Organization. “Following outbreaks of influenza A(H5N8)/A(H5N2) in the US, information on individuals with exposure to infected birds was collected, but no evidence of human infection with influenza A(H5) was detected among the persons involved in the study,” the WHO said in its report on the assessment of risk associated with influenza A(H5N8) virus published on November 17 last year.

Enough supply

Meanwhile, United Broilers Raisers Association President Elias Jose M. Inciong welcomed the import bans as a preventive measure to protect the local poultry industry from the bird-flu outbreaks. However, Inciong said the import bans will not have a direct impact on the farm-gate price of locally produced chicken. “There will be no effect in terms sales and prices because the US, Canada and Australia were not the ones banned, which are the main sources of products that the processors and traders use and import,” Inciong told the BusinessMirror. The country’s chicken inventory as of January 2 has reached 24,238.49 metric tons (MT), more than half, or 68.47 percent higher, than the 14,387.06 MT recorded in the same period last year, according to the latest data from the National Meat Inspection Service. Of the figure, 15,160.96 MT, or 62.54 percent of the total inventory, were locally produced. The local chicken in the inventory were more than double of the 6,505.69 MT recorded a year ago. The remaining chicken inventory of some 9,077.53 MT were imported from abroad. The figure was 15.17 percent higher than the 7,881.37 MT imported chicken same time period in 2016.


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Sunday, January 15, 2017

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Private investors can boost US transportation–Chao

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ASHINGTON—The incoming Trump administration is looking to “unleash the potential” of private investors to boost the national transportation networks that underpin the US economy, the president-elect’s pick for transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, told lawmakers.

Economic gains are being “jeopardized” by aging infrastructure, rising highway fatalities, growing congestion and a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies, Chao testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Chao, 63, is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate. She was labor secretary during George W. Bush’s administration and deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush. Her husband is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. When McConnell introduced Chao at the hearing, he stole a line from former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole: “I regret I have but one wife to give for my country’s infrastructure.” Dole’s wife, Elizabeth, is a former trans-

portation and labor secretary. Chao joked, “I will be working to lock in the majority leader’s support tonight over dinner.” But she hasn’t been immune from criticism. Unions say that, as labor secretary, she mostly sided with industry when enforcing labor and safety rules. Chao advocated using “innovative financing tools” that can “take full advantage of the estimated trillions in capital that equity firms, pension funds and endowments can invest.” She said private investment should be encouraged with “a bold, new vision.” She didn’t detail those incentives, but a paper written by two economic advisers to Presidentelect Donald J. Trump recommends providing $137 billion in tax credits to infrastructure investors. His advisers predict that

air-traffic control operations and whether she would enforce a deadline for railroads to install traincontrol systems that can prevent many derailments and collisions. Chao said those decisions would be up to the Trump White House or that she hadn’t been briefed on the issues yet.

$137B Transportation Secretary-designate Elaine Chao testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. AP

will generate about $1 trillion in investment over 10 years. But transportation experts note that investors are interested only in transportation projects that produce revenue, such as toll roads, and there are relatively few large projects like that. They say states need financial aid from the federal government to help with a growing backlog of maintenance and repair projects for aging highways, bridges and transit systems. Providing tax incentives also runs the risk of providing a windfall to investors for projects that would have been built anyway. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, asked Chao if she and the incoming Trump

administration would support infrastructure legislation that includes direct federal spending on transportation in addition to efforts that generate private financing. “I believe the answer is yes,” she said. That could put the new administration at odds with conservatives who insist that federal spending be restrained. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, urged Chao to consider greatly reducing the federal gas tax that pays for most highway and transit spending, and leaving nearly the entire responsibility for transportation to states. “I a m open to a l l ideas,” she repl ied. Trump repeatedly promised

during the campaign to spend $1 trillion on roads, bridges, railways, airports and other types of infrastructure. It’s one of the main ways he said he would create jobs. But he has said little about this since the election. Republican congressional leaders have said they’ll wait to see what Trump proposes before tackling a public works bill. Trump has said he expects to be occupied early in his administration with cutting taxes and repealing President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. Infrastructure isn’t expected to be dealt with until late spring. Democrats at the hearing tried to pin Chao down on contentious issues, such as whether to privatize

The total amount of tax incentives to be extended to infrastructure investors as recommended by two economic advisers of President Donald J. Trump. The advisers predict that this will generate about P1-trillion investment in over 10 years.

As transportation secretary, Chao would be responsible for regulating auto, truck, train, transit, pipelines and aviation safety. The department frequently faces pressure from industry to relax safety rules and block new ones. Chao, who has been associated w ith conser vative think tanks, is likely to lend a sympathetic ear to industry pleas for less regulation. AP


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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The World BusinessMirror

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How a lurid and unverified dossier became a crisis for Donald J. Trump

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ASHINGTON—Seven months ago, a respected former British spy named Christopher Steele won a contract to build a file on Donald J. Trump’s ties to Russia. Last week the explosive details—unsubstantiated accounts of frolics with prostitutes, real-estate deals that were intended as bribes and coordination with Russian intelligence of the hacking of Democrats—were summarized for Trump in an appendix to a top-secret intelligence report.

The consequences have been incalculable and will play out long past Inauguration Day. Word of the summary, which was also given to President Barack Obama and to congressional leaders, leaked to CNN on Tuesday, and the rest of the media followed with sensational reports. Tr ump denounced t he unproven claims on Wednesday as a fabrication, a Nazi-style smear concocted by “sick people”. It has further undermined his relationship with the intelligence agencies and cast a shadow over the new administration. Late Wednesday night, after speak ing w ith Tr ump, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, issued a statement decrying leaks about the matter and saying of Steele’s dossier t hat t he intel l igence agencies have “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.” Clapper suggested that intelligence officials had, nonetheless, shared it to give policy-makers “the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.” Parts of the story remain out of reach—most critically the basic question of how much, if anything, in the dossier is true. But it is possible to piece together a rough narrative of what led to the current crisis, including lingering questions about the ties binding Trump and his team to Russia. The episode also offers a glimpse of the hidden side of presidential campaigns, involving private sleuths-for-hire looking for the worst they can find about the next American leader. The story began in September

2015, when a wealthy Republican donor who strongly opposed Trump put up the money to hire a Washington research firm run by former journalists, Fusion GPS, to compile a dossier about the realestate magnate’s past scandals and weaknesses, according to a person familiar with the effort. The person described the opposition research work on condition of anonymity, citing the volatile nature of the story and the likelihood of future legal disputes. The identity of the donor is unclear. Fusion GPS, headed by a former Wall Street Journal journalist known for his dogged reporting, Glenn Simpson, most often works for business clients. But in presidential elections, the firm is sometimes hired by candidates, party organizations or donors to do political “oppo” work—shorthand for opposition research— on the side. It is routine work and ordinarily involves creating a big, searchable database of public information: past news reports, documents from lawsuits and other relevant data. For months, Fusion GPS gathered the documents and put together the files from Trump’s past in business and entertainment, a rich target. After Trump emerged as the presumpt ive nominee in t he spring, the Republican interest in financing the effort ended. But Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton were very interested, and Fusion GPS kept doing the same deep dives but on behalf of new clients. Last June the tenor of the effort suddenly changed. The Washington Post reported that the Democratic National Committee had been

A view of the building where Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. is located, in central London. An unsubstantiated dossier on US President-elect Donald J. Trump, which has been circulating in Washington for months, was compiled by a former Western intelligence operative, identified on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal as Christopher Steele of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. AP

hacked, apparently by Russian government agents, and a mysterious figure calling himself “Guccifer 2.0” began to publish the stolen documents online. Simpson hired Steele, a former British intelligence officer with whom he had worked before. Steele, in his early 50s, had served undercover in Moscow in the early 1990s and later was the top expert on Russia at the London headquarters of Britain’s spy service, MI6. When he stepped down in 2009, he started his own commercial intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence. The former journalist and the former spy, according to people who know them, had similarly dark views of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a former KGB officer, and the varied tactics he and his intelligence operatives used to smear, blackmail or bribe their targets.

long, that he began to deliver to Fusion GPS last June and continued at least until December. By then, the election was over, and neither Steele nor Simpson was being paid by a client, but they did not stop what they believed to be very important work. (Simpson declined to comment for this article, and Steele did not immediately reply to a request for comment.) The memos described two different Russian operations. The first was a years-long effort to find a way to influence Trump, perhaps because he had contacts with Russian oligarchs whom Putin wanted to keep track of. According to Steele’s memos, it used an array of familiar tactics: the gathering of “kompromat”, compromising mater ia l, such as alleged tapes of Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel, and proposals for business deals attractive to Trump.

It is a remarkable moment in history. What world did I wake up in.”—Wilson As a former spy who had carried out espionage inside Russia, Steele was in no position to travel to Moscow to study Trump’s connections there. Instead, he hired native Russian speakers to call informants inside Russia and made surreptitious contact with his own connections in the country, as well. Steele wrote up his findings in a series of memos, each a few pages

The goal would probably never have been to make Trump a knowing agent of Russia, but to make him a source who might provide information to friendly Russian contacts. But if Putin and his agents wanted to entangle Trump using business deals, they did not do it very successfully—Trump has said he has no major properties, there, though one of his sons said at a real-estate conference

in 2008 that “a lot of money was pouring in from Russia.” The second Russian operation described was recent: a series of contacts with Trump’s representatives during the campaign, in part to discuss the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta. According to Steele’s sources, it involved, among other things, a late-summer meeting in Prague between Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Trump, and Oleg Solodukhin, a Russian official who works for Rossotrudnichestvo, an organization that promotes Russia’s interests abroad. By all accounts, Steele has an excellent reputation with American and British intelligence colleagues and had done work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the investigation of bribery at Fédération Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s global governing body. Colleagues say he was acutely aware of the danger he and his associates were being fed Russian disinformation. Russian intelligence had mounted a complex hacking operation to damage Clinton, and a similar operation against Trump was possible. But much of what he was told, and passed on to Fusion GPS, was very difficult to check. And some of the claims that can be checked seem problematic. Cohen, for instance, said on Twitter on Tuesday night that he has never been in Prague; Solodukhin, his purported Russian contact, denied in a telephone interview that he had ever met Cohen or anyone associated with Trump. The president-elect

on Wednesday cited news reports that a different Michael Cohen with no Trump ties may have visited Prague and that the two Cohens might have been mixed up in Steele’s reports. But word of a dossier had begun to spread through political circles. Rick Wilson, a Republican political operative who was working for a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio, said he heard about it last July, when an investigative reporter for a major news network called him to ask what he knew. By early fall, some of Steele’s memos had been given to the FBI, which was already investigating Trump’s Russian ties, and to journalists. An MI6 official, whose job does not permit him to be quoted by name, said that in late summer or early fall, Steele also passed the reports he had prepared on Trump and Russia to British intelligence. Steele was concerned about what he was hearing about Trump, and he thought that the information should not be solely in the hands of people looking to win a political contest. After the election, the memos, still being supplemented by his inquiries, became one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, as reporters—including from The New York Times—scrambled to confirm or disprove them. Word also reached Capitol Hill. Sen. John McCain, Republican-Arizona, heard about the dossier and obtained a copy last December from David J. Kramer, a former top State Department official who works for the McCain Institute at Arizona State University. McCain passed the information to James B. Comey, the FBI director. Remarkably for Washington, many reporters for competing news organizations had the salacious and damning memos, but they did not leak, because their contents could not be confirmed. That changed only this week, after the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the National Security Agency added a summary of the memos, along with information gathered from other intelligence sources, to their report on the Russian cyber attack on the election. Now, after the most contentious of elections, Americans are divided and confused about what to believe about the incoming president. And there is no prospect soon for full clarity on the veracity of the claims made against him. “It is a remarkable moment in history,” said Wilson, the Florida political operative. “What world did I wake up in?” New York Times News Service

Beijing plays down tough talk by Trump pick for top diplomat

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EIJING—China on Thursday stressed mutual respect and cooperation with the United States in response to tough talk from Donald J. Trump’s pick for secretary of state, who said the administration would block Chinese access to its fortified man-made islands in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said tensions in the strategically vital waterway had lessened and countries from outside the region should support efforts toward stability. China-US relations are based on “nonconfrontation, nonconflict, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation,” Lu said at a daily briefing. “If you take a look at [Chinese] President Xi Jinping’s call with Donald Trump after he won the election, you can see that the two

countries do respect each other, and we agree with him that we should develop our relations based on mutual respect,” he said. In the South China Sea, which China claims virtually entirely, the “situation has cooled down, and we hope nonregional countries can respect this consensus that is in the fundamental interest of the whole world,” Lu added. In testimony at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Rex Tillerson presented a sharply more confrontational tone that diverged from the Obama administration’s focus on cooperation with China. “You’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed,” he said

when asked if he supported a more aggressive US posture. The former Exxon Mobil chief executive also accused Beijing of “declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s,” comparing its island-building

ef for ts a nd deploy ment of militar y assets on the islands to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea—an action that ended up prompting tough US and European sanctions. He c a l led C h i n a’s ac t ion s

If you take a look at [Chinese] President Xi Jinping’s call with Donald J. Trump after he won the election, you can see that the two countries do respect each other, and we agree with him that we should develop our relations based on mutual respect.”—Lu

“extremely worrisome.” The US failure to respond “ has allowed them to keep pushing the envelope” in seas that carr y $5 trillion of trade annually, he said, suggesting Trump would adopt a tougher approach. “This is a threat to the entire global economy if China is allowed to, somehow, dictate the terms of passage through these waters,” Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chinese diplomats say they aren’t overly worried by fiery rhetoric from Trump and his Cabinet picks and that China’s won’t change its basic constructive approach to US-China relations. However, they say they won’t negotiate over what China considers its “core interests”, particularly the self-governing island of

Taiwan, which it claims. Trump spoke by telephone with Taiwan’s president after his election last year in a remarkable break with US diplomatic precedent. Tillerson’s comments on the South China Sea were savaged by some foreig n e x per t s on the region and Chinese militar y analysts, who said Beijing wou ld l i kely respond to a ny such moves with its own harsh retaliator y measures. T i l l e r s o n’s t e s t i m o n y o n blocking access to the South China Sea islands was “reckless/ inaccurate,” t weeted Michael Swaine, an ex pert on Chinarelated security topics at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. “Hmm, never heard of ‘act of war?’” he added. AP


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Sunday

Sunday, January 15, 2017 A5

Holy Name of Jesus By Corazon Damo-Santiago

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t the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, Philippians 2:10 says. Jesus is the name of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It was the angel Gabriel who instructed the Blessed Virgin Mar y that the child she is conceiving would be named Jesus. “Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favor with God. Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus,” Luke 1:30-31 says. Is it a wonder, then, that the name Jesus is the heart of Christian prayers? Likewise, all liturgical prayers end with the phrase through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of Indulges issued by the church designated a partial indulgence by invoking the name “Jesus”.

Feast of the Holy Name

Devotees hold onto the rope pulling the carriage of the Black Nazarene during the Traslacion, or “solemn transfer,” an annual procession of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand in Intramuros, Manila, back to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo on January 9. The Black Nazarene was carved from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico, and then transported to the Philippines in 1606. It depicts Jesus en route to His crucifixion. The first Traslacion was held in 1787. ALYSA SALEN

Black Nazarene ‘Traslacion’ in photos

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated in January. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was probably introduced in the 15th century. In the Latin Rite Catholic Church it was observed as an optional memorial on January 3 by Franciscans, Jesuits and Carmelites; on January 15 by Dominicans; and second Sunday after Epiphany by Carthusians. With the reform of the liturgical calendar on February 14, 1969, the feast of the name of Jesus is commemorated on the Octave of Christmas. The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, celebrated on January 1, takes the place of the festival of the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to New Book of Festivals and Commemoration by Philip Pfatteicher. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb, according to Luke 2:21.

The Jesus Prayer

DEVOTEES hold the cross of the Back Nazarene atop its carriage as they join the Traslacion. ALYSA SALEN

A devotee hangs while kissing the cross of the Black Nazarene. ALYSA SALEN

Devotees hold onto the rope pulling the carriage of the Black Nazarene. ALYSA SALEN

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me.” Saint Theophan, the Recluse, considers the Jesus prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the Holy Name. “The Jesus Prayer” and the veneration of the Holy Name went back to devotions of early Christians, according to Leslie Houlden in Jesus: the Complete Guide 2006. A “short formulaic prayer, it is continuously repeated as an ascetic practice to enhance stillness. Its most likely origin is the Egyptian dessert where monastic fathers lived. Antoine Guillaumont reported inscriptions of the prayer in the ruins of a cell. Saint Bernardine of Siena associated the prayer with the IHS and introduced the Litany of the Holy Name in the 15th century. The early Christians who responded to God’s call and withdrew from worldly life did not use many words to pray. In simplicity they would stretch their arms and say, “Lord have pity on me,” and

frequently cry out “Deus in adjutorium meum intende [O God come to my aid], for they only knew the most rudimentary lithurgy,” Thomas Merton narrates in Contemplative Prayer. Monks of Oriental Churches in Greece and Russia use Philokalia, a handbook of prayers, which is concerned with the prayer of the heart, or Jesus Prayer. As Saint Macarius said, “There is no other perfect meditation than the saving and Blessed Name of Jesus dwelling without interruption in you.” To the saint, to invoke the name of Jesus with profound attention in the heart considered as the root and source of one’s own inner truth manifests intensity of faith.

A sinner am I

“Lord Jesus Christ Son of God Have mercy on me, a sinner.” This Eastern version acknowledges in humility that one is a sinner. Panagiotis Christou in Unifying the Mind with the Heart and Man with God justifies the addition of the word “sinner.” He said, “It is addressed to God but not a means of self-deifying or self-deliverance but a counter example of Adam’s pride— repairing the breach it produced between God and man.” Father Archemandrite, a spiritual father of the Romanian Orthodox Monastic Spirituality, said this is a prayer of the lips, mouth, tongue, voice, mind and heart. An active, all-seeing, contemplative prayer, it is the prayer advocated by Apostle Paul. Saint Theophan, a 19th-century Russian spiritual writer, stated that spiritually can be an oral and focused prayer. It is a prayer of the heart itself “ when prayer is no longer something we do, but who we are.” In the Eastern Tradition, a cord with many knots is used as a guide. Repeated for every knot, the prayer is accompanied with a sign of the cross or prostrations. A spiritual guide supervises that the prayer is repeated with rhythmical breath. Saint Augustine summarized the three dimensions of Jesus prayer. He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head and is prayed to us as our God. Therefore, let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.

Talking to God

Prayer is communication with God. It can be vocal or silent, alone or with others. And that singing is twice praying. Saint Teresa of Calcutta prays by listening to God quietly. In the tradition of the Catholic Church the purposes of prayer is to adore God, to ask forgiveness for sins, to thank God for blessings and to ask for His grace and help. Labeled as Adoration, Contrition, Thankfulness and Supplication, Christians are encouraged to follow this pattern, instead of solely supplications or requests. n Santiago is a former regional director of the Department of Education National Capital Region. She is currently a faculty member of Mater Redemptoris College in Calauan, Laguna.

Proper conservation of ash remains according to Vatican

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By Ivee L. Johnson

he Catholic Church now permits cremation of deceased persons, but it forbids the scattering of ashes and keeping cremated remains at home, according to a document released recently by the Vatican. The document, Ad resurgendum cum Christo (To Rise With Christ), presents an instruction approved by Pope Francis “regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation.” The instruction comes amid the growing popularity of cremation as an alternative to traditional burial for the past 20 years, following the Church’s acceptance of the practice in the early 1960s. Even before the release of the document, Eternal Crematory Corp., a pioneer in the local cremation industry, has promoted and supported the proper conservation of the ashes of the dearly departed, through the columbary that it offers at each of its branches. The columbary provides a dignified repository for the cremated remains of the dead and a perfect place where the living can honor their memory. Eternal Cremator y affirms its commitment to provide excellent

cremation service and products to the Filipino family in its pioneering branch at Eternal Gardens, Baesa, Caloocan City, and at Eternal Gardens parks in the cities of Biñan, Laguna; Dagupan and Batangas. Presenting the document to the public in the Vatican last November, Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “Shortly, in many countries, cremation will be considered the ordinary way to deal with the dead, including for Catholics.” While the Catholic Church continues to prefer burial in the ground, it accepts cremation as an option, Muller said. The Church had issued an instruction in 1963 permitting cremation, as long as it was not done as a sign of denial of the basic Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead. The permission was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law in 1983 and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in 1990. However, Muller said, Catholic Church law had not specified exactly what should be done with “cremains,” or cremated remains, and several bishops’ conferences asked the Church to provide guidance. The result, approved by Pope Francis after consultation with other Vatican offices and with bishops’ conferences and the Eastern churches’ synods of bishops, is the

Ad resurgendum cum Christo. According to Section 5 of the instruction, “when, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority [Secretary 5, Ad resurgendum cum Christo].” The section further explains: “The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has, too, passed away. Also, it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.” Muller also asserted that putting the cremains in an urn in a public place, such as a columbarium, marked with the person’s name, the same name with which the person was baptized and by which the person is called by God, “is an expression of belief in the ‘communion of saints,’ the unending unity in Christ of all the baptized, living and dead.”

In Section 6 of Ad resurgendum cum Christo, the faithful is prohibited from keeping the ashes in a domestic residence and dividing the remains among the family members. “For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members, and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.” Section 7 of Ad resurgendum cum Christo bans the practice of scattering the ashes of the departed anywhere and its preservation in the form of accessories. “In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized

Eternal Crematory chapel

by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.” The Eternal Crematory Corp., the country’s leading proponent of dignified and solemn preservation of cremated remains, was established in 1995. Its four branches are located inside the parks of sister company Eternal Gardens. The youngest, Saint Michael Crematory and Columbary at the park in Balagtas, Batangas City, opened in 2016. Each of these crematories is equipped with modern and state - of-the -ar t cremation machines, which undergo regular preventive maintenance by trained personnel to ensure that they are always in the best working condition. Besides cremation, Eternal Crematory

also offers a wide selection of high-quality urns for storing the cremated ashes. It also provides beautifully designed crypts for the proper and acceptable conservation of cremains. The facilities, along with the other amenities that the company offers, are all for the convenience and peace of mind of the bereaved family. Eternal Crematory is currently on an expansion drive in order to reach more Filipinos in other parts of the country. This is a timely move in light of the release of the guidelines by the Vatican. By building more columbaries, the company will be providing more Filipinos the proper place and means for the conservation of their loved ones’ cremated remains in accordance with the Christian Catholic faith.


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Science

BusinessMirror

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Genomics used to develop new, better sugarcane varieties

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he sugarcane industry is huge in the Philippines, with many other industries heavily dependent on sugar, such as the energy and fuel sectors, including bioethanol. News reports say sugarcane farming is the second most in demand job in the Philippines. Reports say data from the Bureau of Local Employment said there were 12,400 vacancies for sugarcane farmers and 100 job openings for sugarcane grinders as of January 2016. Therefore, the sugarcane industry, along with its allied industries, need support to sustain this strong demand, especially considering the fact that like any other crop, sugarcane deteriorates, becomes prone to disease and its yield decreases as it remains in the field. To sustain the industry’s growth, new and superior varieties of sugarcane should be developed, according to Dr. Liwayway M. Engle of the Philippine Sugar Research Institute (PhilSurin). The problem is, sugarcane breeding, which includes marker-assisted selection of promising varieties, is a long and tedious process—taking as many as eight to nine years— thus, requiring a lot of human and financial resources. The process is long due to sugarcane’s long life cycle and complex genetic nature, which requires a huge breeding populations of 100,000 to 400,000 genotypes. To solve this problem, Engle said genetic improvement of sugarcane must be continuously undertaken. Speaking at the recent S&T Agri Biotech Forum held at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall, Engle said sugar genomics is good for increased productivity, profitability, sustainability and global competitiveness of the Philippine sugar industry. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development, the forum was part of the activities for the 12th National Biotechnology Week.   Engle and her team, which includes a pathologist, agronomist and breeders, started a project in 2012 that sought to apply genomics in sugarcane variety development. PhilSurin partnered with the Philippine Genome Center, whose stateof-the-art DNA sequencing facilities were funded by the DOST.   The objective was to reduce the time it takes to develop a new variety by two to three years, thus, shortening the process to five to six years. “So we can bring new varieties to sugarcane planters a lot quicker,” Engle said. In particular, the group wanted to produce high-yielding varieties, while eliminating their susceptibility to two major diseases affecting sugarcane through DNA markerassisted selection (MAS). These two diseases are downy mildew and smut. MAS is a process in which scientists search for biomarkers associated with a particular trait. When a marker is found to be consistently associated with a specific trait, that marker may now be used by the scientists to screen for that trait.

Biomarkers, therefore, help speed up the development of new sugarcane varieties. Under the conventional eight-to-nineyear breeding program, two stages are done for selection against diseases. In screening for downy mildew, the team selects the best in terms of morphological traits among the 100,000 varieties they produce. Those selected are subjected to a screening procedure to see are resistant against the disease. They are planted and laid down in mildew nurseries where there are also susceptible varieties. Then inoculation is done where the inoculum (water containing downy mildew pathogens or agents, which cause downy mildew) is sprayed on the seedlings. After which, evaluation is undertaken to check which of the selected varieties are resistant to downy mildew. For screening of smut, the planting materials are soaked in the inoculum containing the smut pathogens after which incubation is done. Then the planting materials are planted in the field and the team awaits the growth of the seedlings. The team then rates the plants on whether they are susceptible or resistant to smut. Hence, to shorten the process, Engle’s team decided to undertake the application of biotechnology for marker-assisted selection. In identifying the markers for the diseases, they collect samples of sugarcane at the age of about three to six months. The samples are ground and genomic DNA is isolated from the samples. The DNA then undergoes amplification or multiplication into several duplicates. The material is then subjected to electrophoresis, a technique for separating the components of a mixture of charged molecules in an electric field. Through electrophoresis, different band patterns consisting of different segments of DNA may be seen. Band patterns are also called DNA fingerprints. This data is then analyzed and they compute for genetic distance, which determines how similar or how different the two sugarcane parents are. This information is useful to scientists in deciding whether to cross-pollinate or hybridize the two parents. Next, scientists do analysis or association test for the trait that they are considering for the marker. Then they score the band patterns for each variety, to know which band pattern exists in which varieties and which is unique to a certain variety. The band patterns or DNA fingerprints are also used in variety-integrity tests to check the authenticity of the sugarcane variety, after which a certification is issued. This will ensure that farmers are planting the right variety in their fields. So far, Engle and her team has already ranked the different promising sugarcane varieties based on field trials in Victorias City and La Carlota in Negros Occidental, and in Bukidnon. They hope to eventually produce five promising varieties. Other partners for the project are the Sugar Regulatory Administration and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines. S&T Media Service

Rusty-patched bumblebee now an endangered species

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RAVERSE CITY, Michigan—The rustypatched bumblebee has become the first bee species in the continental US to be declared endangered after suffering a dramatic population decline over the past 20 years, federal officials said on Tuesday. The US Fish and Wildlife Service first told The Associated Press it was adding the bee to the endangered list before a news release was issued. That means there will be a recovery plan to encourage people to provide more habitat and reduce pesticide usage—many steps that could help other struggling bees and monarch butterflies, which pollinate a wide variety of plants, officials said. “Pollinators are small, but mighty, parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world,” said Tom Melius, the service’s Midwest regional director. “Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrublands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand.” Th e d e c i s i o n d re w p ra i s e f ro m environmentalists but criticism from the nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation,

which acknowledged the role bees play in pollinating crops but contended the listing could lead to costly regulation of land or chemical use. “I think we can do better in the private sector, where landowners working collaboratively can come up with protection for these species without intervention and bureaucratic red tape of the federal government,” said Ryan Yates, the group’s director of congressional relations. The Endangered Species Act prohibits significant modification or degradation of habitat that leads directly to death or injury of listed species. The Fish and Wildlife Service said it hadn’t yet developed a strategy for dealing with private landowners regarding the rusty patched bumblebee, which it said already has disappeared from large-scale farming areas and is found mostly in yards and gardens. Officials said they would seek cooperation from landowners and local organizations on “bee-friendly practices,” including use of native flowering plants for landscaping, planting flowers and trees and avoiding use of pesticides that harm bees. AP

Sunday

Editor: Lyn B. Resurreccion

Florida researchers find 2 new invasive mosquitoes in state

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IAMI—Two more tropical disease-carrying mosquitoes have been found on the US mainland for the first time, caught in traps near Florida’s Everglades.

The scientists involved say this could raise the risk of mosquitoborne viruses reaching people and birds, but health officials say it’s too early to sound an alarm. The new arrivals from Latin America and the Caribbean—Culex panocossa and Aedeomyia squamipennis—were trapped last October in rural areas bordering Everglades National Park by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist Nathan Burkett-Cadena and Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory researcher Erik Blosser. Their research is being published in the Journal of Medical Entomology and the journal Acta Tropica. In the traps, they discovered that native species were crowded out by thousands of Culex panocossa mosquitoes and hundreds of Aedeomyia squamipennis mosquitoes. Both species can be found on a few Caribbean islands, as well as from Mexico into South America. They lay their eggs on water lettuce—invasive weeds that float in the canals, drainage ditches and other waterways crisscrossing Florida neighborhoods. “’Hundreds’ is substantial, particularly when you get a hundred from a single trap. This is not a single specimen that blew in from

15 The number of invasive mosquitoes, which now live in Florida, including nine that have arrived in the last decade

a storm—this is a reproducing species,” Burkett-Cadena said. About 15 invasive mosquitoes now live in Florida, including nine that have arrived in the last decade. One, Aedes aegypti, is blamed for spreading the Zika virus, along with dengue fever and chikungunya. The new arrivals are another sign that climate change, along w it h i nc rea sed tou r i sm a nd global trade, has made Florida more hospitable to exotic species, Burkett-Cadena said. Health officials downplayed the immediate cause for concern,

This 2006 file photo, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP

saying more research was needed. “We have seen in Florida some invasive mosquito species that have become significant and others that have not,” Florida Department of Health Spokesman Mara Gambineri said in an e-mail on Tuesday. One of roughly 200 mosquito species worldwide known to transmit diseases to humans, Culex panocossa can spread Venezuelan equine encephalitis, a family of viruses that includes the Everglades virus. The native Florida mosquito that Burkett-Cadena and Blosser were hoping to trap also can infect humans with Everglades virus, but it rarely has the opportunity to do so because humans rarely venture into its remote wetlands habitat. T he new Cu le x spec ies i n Florida lives closer to civilization, potentially increasing the risk of Everglades virus exposure, Burkett- Cadena said. Aedeomyia squamipennis spreads bird malarias, including the kinds that have devastated

Hawaii’s native bird populations. These parasites already are found in Florida, but the introduction of a new carrier that feeds predominantly on birds could be worrisome for struggling Florida birds, Burkett-Cadena said. Gambineri said many factors could determine whether a diseasecarrying invasive species becomes a significant concern, such as its choice of host, its habitat, its tolerance of cooler temperatures and competition from other species. Janet McAllister, a medical entomologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said other species capable of transmitting Venezuelan equine encephalitis already live in the country. The most recent US outbreak was in the 1970s, infecting humans and horses in Texas and Louisiana. “It’s pretty complex and pretty difficult for virus transmission to occur, which is a good thing,” McAllister said. AP

Human-driven global warming biggest threat to polar bears–report

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ederal wildlife officials on Monday called climate change the biggest threat to the survival of the polar bear and warned that without decisive action to combat global warming, the bears would almost certainly disappear from much of the Arctic. “It cannot be overstated that the single most important action for the recovery of polar bears is to significantly reduce the present levels of global greenhouse-gas emissions,” the officials wrote in a report released by the Fish and Wildlife Service. “The sooner global warming and sea-ice loss are stopped, the better the long-term prognosis for the species,” they added. The report, called a conser vation management plan, is required under the Endangered Species Act and outlines what must be done for a species to recover and avoid extinction. The polar bear was listed as threatened under the Act in 2008. But the report’s message, coming less than two weeks before President-elect Donald J. Trump takes office, may face a skeptical audience in a new administration that has expressed doubt about the science of climate change and disputed the dangers it poses. Trump has signaled his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement—an accord the wildlife agency lauded in its report as a positive step toward ensuring the continued existence of polar bears—and he has shown little interest in making emissions reduction a priority. Nor is the price tag that accompanies the recovery plan for the polar bear, about $13 million a year, likely to be greeted with enthusiasm by a Republican-dominated Congress that includes members with no great love for the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Ser vice, a division of the Interior Department, has no authority on its own to dictate energy policy or regulate emissions, a point the agency’s report readily concedes. As a result, the conservation plan is mostly focused on less-critical issues for polar bears, like overhunting, the increasing conflicts between bears and humans, the preservation of areas that bears use for dens, the potential threats posed by oil spills and the possibility of

A mother polar bear walks with her triplets in the town of Kaktovik, Alaska, on September 5, 2016. Polar bears roam the town during the fall as climate refugees on land because the sea ice they rely on for hunting seals is receding. Josh Haner/The New York Times 

increased exposure to diseases as the marine environment changes. Addressing these problems, the authors of the report wrote, would place the bears in a better position to survive “once Arctic warming has been abated.” Todd Atwood, a research wildlife biologist at the United States Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center who was involved in crafting the plan, said: “We wanted a document that really clearly stated that climate change was, in fact, the primary threat to polar bears in the long term. At the same time, we also wanted folks on the ground and around the country to know that we still need to do what we can in the near and mid-term.” Atwood said the plan was unusual because it was developed before the species had showed a precipitous decline. Species are sometimes listed as endangered only after their numbers have become so depleted that recovery is impossible.

Overall, the global polar bear population has remained steady, but in some areas— including the southern Beaufort Sea, off the Alaska coast—the population has declined, and the bears’ physical condition has deteriorated. Biologists agree that there will be a pronounced drop in the overall polar bear population as the Arctic ice cover continues to decrease. Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, the main staple of their diet. In its report, which defines what recovery means and sets goals toward achieving it, the wildlife agency says the threat to polar bears will vary depending on the steps that are taken to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and slow sea-ice loss. If prompt and very aggressive action is taken to keep the rise in global mean temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, the chance that polar bears recover will be greatly enhanced, the report’s authors say.

If, on the other hand, emissions continue unabated at their current rate, only small areas in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and northern Greenland might still provide enough sea ice for the bears to survive. An estimated 26,000 polar bears currently make up 19 subpopulations that range across the five countries ringing the Arctic: the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland (a territory of Denmark). Scientists have divided the bears into four eco-regions, defined by the seasonal behavior of the sea ice and the amount of time that bears spend on shore. The recovery plan deals primarily with two polar bear subpopulations off the coast of Alaska, in the southern Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas. While the global polar bear population has not yet shown a significant decline, the number of bears in the southern Beaufort Sea has decreased over the last decade, to about 900 bears, from about 1,500 in 2006. New York Times News Service


Tourism& Entertainment BusinessMirror

Editor: Carla Mortel-Baricaua

Sunday, January 15, 2017 A7

International folk dance festival

brings tourism and cultural exchange

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By Leony R. Garcia

olk dances reflect the traditional life of the people. All over the world, folk dances are showcased and used as a form of cultural exchange among nations.

Members of the Bayanihan dance company poses after a performance.

Folk dancing is usually associated with social activities. That’s why no fiesta or festivity in the Philippines is complete without folk dancing. Yearly, the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation hosts the Fiesta Folkloriada, an international festival of folk dance held in December at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Under the auspices of Federation of International Dance Festivals, the Fiesta Folkloriada of the Philippines,  a project of the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation in partnership with the Ambassador Alfonso T.  Yuchengco Foundation, gathers a select group of five dance companies from the different parts of the globe to conduct cultural exchanges in various parts of the Philippines, teach and learn from each other and perform in a grand finale with the Bayanihan, the national folk dance

company of the Philippines, at the CCP. Now on its 10th year, the Fiesta is presented mainly in the city of Manila. It used to invite 10 top dance companies from around the world. But for better management and programming, the participants have been set at a maximum of five countries at 20 participants each. The Fiesta is held in December when participants can enjoy a festive atmosphere as this is the time when everyone prepares for Christmas, a very important religious celebration in the Philippines. Project director of the Fiesta Folkloriada is Suzie Moya Benitez, the local chairman for Asia, Federation of International Dance Festivals. She is also the trustee and executive director of Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation and serves as associate vice president, Campus Life, Philippine Women’s University

All set for Sinulog 2017

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ebu, the Queen City of the South, is holding the grandest festival in the Philippines, the Sinulog Festival, today. Now on its 37th year, the Sinulog Festival, which bears its original slogan “One Beat, One Dance, One Vision”, and this year’s 452nd Fiesta Señor celebration in honor of the Child Jesus Señor Santo Niño, which bears the theme, “Santo Niño: Source of Communion, Protector of Creation”, is expected to draw millions of spectators and devotees alike. During the Sinulog 2017 final briefing held at the R izal Museum and Public Librar y Building, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña emphasized his priority is always “safety” of ever yone. “Our priority is, No. 1: safety, No. 2: safety and No. 3: safety,” said Osmeña, who is also the chairman of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. He urged ever yone to be cautious and vigilant, at the same time, throughout the celebration. Osmeña

has considered the bombing incident in Hilongos, Leyte, in the previous days as a big threat to the festivity, adding that if ever yone will work hand in hand to be vigilant and extra careful, a similar incident can be prevented. He has assigned volunteers in specific areas, especially along the route of the Sinulog Grand Parade, to creep around on bad elements. Osmeña noted that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) can come in any form such as a paper bag or trash, and it is the duty of the volunteer assigned in the area to monitor and be aware of these things. The mayor is not expecting VIPs to attend the grand event and no invitations to the national officials were given, but, he said, if they will attend they are welcome. He cited that he also requested for a jamming device to limit or disrupt communication, making the Sinulog Grandstand a dead spot to prevent possible explosion of IEDs.

Folkloriada is a venue for cultural exchange through folk dance.

International dance companies grace the Grand Finale at CCP.

and Director of the Center for Culture, Arts, Music and Sports. Benitez welcomed the dance groups from South Korea, Italy, Poland, New Zealand and Russia to the Philippine Women’s University campus on Taft Avenue. The Fiesta opened to the sounds of PWU’s Gong Ensemble and a Water Ritual performed by the Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines and alumni of Bayanihan. According to Benitez, opening ceremonies vary in setting, as it can be held in select destinations around the Philippines.  Performances are also presented in select schools, universities, hotels, homes of important individuals in Philippine society and business communities, and in towns and cities near Metro Manila. The members of Bayanihan serve as guides to the visiting dance companies to ensure that the guests get a taste of the richness of  Philippine cultural heritage and an unforgettable six fun days of personal and professional enrichment and exposure. Part of the itinerary of the various dance groups is the exploration of Philippine islands and tourist destinations. Boracay and Palawan remain to be favorite spots among them, according to Benitez. The Grand Finale of Fiesta Folkloriada was held at the CCP and featured the Bucheon

new pride among Filipinos in their cultural heritage; added a new dimension to the country’s dance tradition; and has built a rich reserve of international goodwill. In appreciation and recognition of its pioneering efforts and international success, the people of the Philippines, through the 10th  Congress, enacted Republic Act 8626 declaring Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as the Philippine National Folk Dance Company. Since then Bayanihan has won six grand prizes in World Dance competitions.

Dance Group (South Korea), Abragas Folk Dance Group (Sicily, Italy), Mali Gorzswiacy Folk Dance Group (Poland), Tahupotiki Maori Club (New Zealand), Kun-Micheer Dance Ensemble (Russia) and the Bayanihan, the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines.

Bayanihan: Working together for a common good

Bayanihan, the national dance company of the Philippines, takes its name from an ancient Filipino tradition called bayanihan, which means working together for a common good. In 1956 Dr. Helena Z. Benitez founded the Bayanihan Folk Dance Group of the PWU. The following year, 1957, it was formally organized as the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center with the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as its performing arm. Both the center and the dance company were tasked to research on and preserve indigenous Philippine art forms in music, dance, costumes and folklore; to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater; and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad. A multiawarded company both nationally and internationally, Bayanihan has awakened a

Once a Bayanihan, always a Bayanihan

This has somewhat become the mantra of all those who were involved with the worldrenowned Bayanihan Dance Group, which recently celebrated its golden anniversary. After all, Bayanihan has not only become a prestigious, if not enviable tag. It is, for its members, a discipline, an education and a lifetime experience. Starting from a mere dance group entertaining tourists and guests at the PWU in 1957, Bayanihan has played an important role in Philippine history by taking our native dances and bringing them onto the world stage for all to see. The dancers have become the country’s bestknown cultural ambassadors

and its alumni, among our most distinguished citizens. The group conquered sophisticated global audiences, as Bayanihan promoted the best of Philippine culture and traditions through music and dances. Earning critical acclaim and raves worldwide, it held the audience spellbound and enthralled the world with its talent and artistry. Among Bayanihan’s distinguished members are Lovely Tecson-Romulo, Rep. Lito Atienza, concert producer Francis Lumen, dance luminaries Eddie Elejar and Tony Fabella, beauty queen Peachy Veneracion, interior designer Edith Oliveros and the late choreographer Lito Calzado. Current Bayanihan trustee and executive director Suzie Moya Benitez herself was a Bayanihan dancer. Under her care, Bayahihan  staged its 60th anniversary with the production of “@60: Bayanihan’s Diamond Dance-O-Rama.” The production dramatized Bayanihan’s growth and surveyed its folk-dance innovations at the CCP from August 25 to 27, 2016. Also launched during the milestone occasion was the book 60 years, Fulfilling the Filipino Dream, Touching Lives, Sharing Culture: The Art of Bayanihan, written by the late Sen. Helena Z. Benitez with Benitez herself, and edited by Jose Cabazor.

Showcasing the tourism gems of the metropolis

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n 2014   Metro Manila was named as among the world’s 10 Fastest-Emerging Global Cities by The World Post because of its eclectic lifestyle, metropolis vibe and world-class shopping.  The Metro Manila Tourism Forum (MMTF) will rediscover the tourism gems of the 16 cities and one municipality and gather government and private stakeholders in the National Capital Region to help draw a comprehensive framework in tourism development.  Set on February 9 and 10 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, the event is organized by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), the country’s national auto club, and co-organized by the host local government unit Quezon City, led by Mayor Herbert Bautista.   The forum, which is supported by the Department of Tourism, will be participated in by local tourism council officers, local government executives, and members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines in Metro Manila.  According to AAP President Augusto Lagman, the two-day confab is themed “Asean: Enhancing city tourism destinations towards sustainable development” in line with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  He said the MMTF will integrate tourism in the promotion of inclusive and sustainable growth; employment and poverty reduction; resource efficiency, environmental protec-

ayala museum

tion and climate change; cultural values, diversity and heritage; and peace and security. Topics include Changing the Tourism Face of City Destinations for a Quality Visitor Experience; Enhancing City Tourism Destinations’ Competitiveness through Improved Accessibility; and A 360° View: Positioning City Tourism Destinations in the Asean and Local Marketplace.  Lagman added that the forum will tackle ways in putting in place the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) thrust of “Accessible Tourism for All”, especially for persons with disability and the disadvantaged sectors of the society. Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo will lead the keynote speakers, which also include UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Xu Jing, The Wallace Business Forum President Peter Wallace, Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan, and

Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine

manila bay sunset cruise

Pacific Asia Travel Association immediate past president Gregory Duffel. Other keynote speakers are International School for Sustainable Tourism President Dr. Mina Gabor, Homestay Philippines Inc. President Rose Libongco, TravPax Solutions Pte. Ltd. President Dror Maytal, and DoT-NCR Officer in Charge

Cathy Agustin, who will present the best metropolitan tour packages. The MMTF has also invited participants from other Asean member-countries in support of the Philippines’s chairmanship of this year’s Asean Summit and 50th anniversary celebration. The event draws to a close with a dinner hosted by Manila City government and Mayor Joseph Estrada, who will host this year’s forum. MMTF is also supported by the Tourism Promotions Board, Smart Corp., and  the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise and Zone Authority as major sponsors; Philippine Airlines, Philippine Veterans Bank, Petron; and Philippine Daily Inquirer and the BusinessMirror as media partners.

Escuela Taller heads international symposium on risk reduction of built heritage along West Valley Fault

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A volunteer on restoration duty

scuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation Inc. (ETFFI) will hold an international symposium from  February 27 to March 2 at the President Osmeñ a Theater in Ayuntamiento, Intramuros, Manila.  This event will bring in renowned experts in the heritage field from Asia and Spain to share their expertise and

technical skills in the preventive maintenance of heritage structures in order to reduce their vulnerabilities from natural disasters, particularly, the potential risks of seismic movements in the West Valley Fault.  Among those set to speak in the symposium are Rojit Jigyasu of the International

Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Sisira Kumara of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Dr. Alex Yen of the  Center for Cultural Sites Rehabilitation and Development, China University of Technology,  Juan Ramon Jimenez Verdejo  of the University of

Shiga  Prefecture in Japan, and Joaquin Garcia Alvarez of Fundacion Santa Maria  la Real del Patromonio Historico in Spain. The conference is jointly organized by ETFFI and the University of the Philippines College of Architecture in collaboration with the Manila Observatory and the

Archdiocese of Manila, and is funded by the HISPANEX Program of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.  More information to follow soon. Interested parties who want to join the symposium may contact Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation.


Sports BusinessMirror

A8 Sunday, January 15, 2017

What’s certain is that a bigger World Cup will generate more cash—nearly $1 billion in additional revenue, according to Fifa estimates. And there will be additional places for underrepresented continents, like Africa, which only has five slots in Russia in 2018, while Europe will have 14 finalists, despite being similarsized confederations.

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By Rob Harris | The Associated Press

ONDON—During a 17-year Fédération Internationale de Football Association presidency packed with madcap ideas and policy on the hoof, not even Sepp Blatter ultimately tinkered with the World Cup format. Blatter inherited a 32-team World Cup when he entered power in 1998 and left—prematurely in disgrace—with that structure intact. Gianni Infantino, though, has barely put his feet beneath the presidential desk before overhauling the biggest entity under his control: the money-spinning extravaganza that funds Fifa’s largesse and unites the world’s fans around television screens. Before the first anniversary of his election win, Infantino’s ruling Council rubberstamped his flagship manifesto pledge  on Tuesday. From 2026, 16 more teams will be invited to the World Cup party. Is it unnecessary interference with a successful format? Or an important move to ensure Fifa’s main event grows at a pace with its swelling membership? That

debate will continue long after the 2026 trophy is handed over, most likely in a sweltering American stadium. What’s certain is that a bigger World Cup will generate more cash—nearly $1 billion in additional revenue, according to Fifa estimates. And there will be additional places for underrepresented continents, like Africa, which only has five slots in Russia in 2018, while Europe will have 14 finalists, despite being similar-sized confederations. Despite those benefits, there are many who have criticized the expansion, particularly among the  sport’s  power nations. Their dismissive response risks giving the impression of an elite trying to muscle out the upstarts and protect their gilded status. Reigning world champion Germany has

Editor: Jun Lomibao • mirror_sports@yahoo.com.ph

been at the forefront of the opposition. Former Germany captain Michael Ballack tweeted: “Irresponsible decision by #FIFA!! It’s an attack on #Football!!” Quite why, Ballack didn’t find the space to explain. Even before the Fifa Council decision, Germany Coach Joachim Loew was complaining about top players being “physically and mentally at their limits.” “You have to be careful that you do not overdo things with too many games,” Loew said, seemingly unaware that the 48-team format adds no additional burden for players because teams can still only play a maximum of seven games. German federation President Reinhard Grindel said: “My main worry is that the attractiveness of the matches will suffer.” The European Championship expanded from 16 to 24 finalists for the first time last year and produced several tedious and instantly forgettable games. The more limited teams have become adept at defensive tactics designed to frustrate more talented opposition and that can produce stultifying games. Watching a team soaking up pressure, hoping to pounce on the break, is not ideal when trying to attract and retain TV viewers. And the new format ensures there will be fewer early eye-catching head-to-heads between leading sides. With the tournament starting with 16 groups of three, the potential 16 European finalists will be separated. So

there won’t be a repeat of games like the group stage of 2014 when Germany played Portugal and England met Italy. Maybe a newcomer can inject some fresh excitement into the tournament in a way the traditional power nations cannot. In this decade, England has produced drab, uninspiring play despite a fresh crop of young players. The English Football Association, which champions global development projects when bidding for tournaments, is skeptical of swelling the expanding the World Cup field. Little wonder perhaps when England’s most recent on-field embarrassment was inflicted at the European Championship by an Iceland side making its tournament debut. At Brazil 2014, Costa Rica finished ahead of England and Italy while advancing from the group stage for only the second time. “The general level of football is increasing all over the world,” Infantino said. “Increasing the size of teams that can participate in the World Cup will increase the investment in football development.” This week’s World Cup vote was the culmination of 14 months of public discussion by Infantino. The former Union of European Football Associations general secretary used his first interview as a Fifa candidate in November 2015 to reveal to The Associated Press his vision of a 40-team World Cup. It turned out that a cleaner format would be achieved with 48 teams.

PHOENIX Coach Earl Watson has a Mexican-American mother. AP

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EXICO CITY—Devin Booker is very proud of his Mexican heritage. But eating grasshopper tacos, a local delicacy? That’s where the Phoenix Suns star apparently draws the line. “No, I did not try them, but I guess I will have to before I leave,” Booker said on  Wednesday  after practice at Arena Ciudad de Mexico. Mexican roots run deep in the Suns, whose Coach Earl Watson and Booker both have Mexican-American mothers, making the games  on Thursday  night against the Dallas Mavericks and  on Saturday  against the San Antonio Spurs memorable occasions for both of them. The 20-year-old Booker is the son of former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Melvin Booker and Veronica Gutierrez, a Mexican-American who raised him while his father played overseas for a decade, including stops in Italy and Russia. “I owe her everything, just growing up she raised me and my brother and sister and she never frown, she was always positive”, said Booker, who’s averaging 19.2 points in his second season in the NBA. “She really cared for me, and never really cared about basketball, as long as I was happy. Having the support from your mother like that it’s unbelievable.” Watson, a former player in his first full season as an NBA head coach, also has an African-American father and a MexicanAmerican mother. His mother, Estrella, will attend the game  on Thursday  in her first trip to the nation’s capital. “For me, personally, it’s big, my grandparents are from Guadalajara, and for my mom, it’s her first time in Mexico City and she’ll be here cheering me on.

Isaiah Austin wins his fight against Marfan syndrome.

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ELGRADE, Serbia— Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin has arrived in Serbia after being cleared to play basketball again, twoand-a-half years after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during a physical before the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. Austin, who played for the Bears from 2012-2014, has signed with FMP Belgrade with a view to joining regional champions Red Star Belgrade next season. The 7-foot-1 player wasn’t selected in the 2014 NBA draft after being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue that holds together the body’s cells, organs and tissue. “A fter 2014 I was told this day wou ld never come, but God is great and has been w ith me this whole time, so here I am,” Austin w rote on his Facebook page. NBA scouts had been aware that Austin was blind in his

right eye from a previous injury aggravated doing a dunk in middle school. Multiple operations couldn’t fix the detached retina and save his vision. After the diagnosis, Austin still got to hear his name called at the NBA draft. He was made a ceremonial pick midway through the first round and presented with an NBA cap by Commissioner Adam Silver. Since then, the 23-yearold Austin has worked to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome through his foundation. He also wrote a memoir. After traveling for three days from the US because of snowy weather across Europe that has canceled hundreds of flights—and losing his baggage along the way—Austin landed at Belgrade airport late Tuesday. “Ain’t changed clothes  in three days  dawg. Lost my bags, at least I’m finally in Serbia but damn I’m sick about my bags yo lol,” Austin wrote on Twitter. AP

Everything my grandparents did as far as coming to the United States, they came illegally, but eventually, gained citizenship and for them to see me take these strides I think it’s big for my family,” Watson said to the Associated Press after  Wednesday’s  practice. Because of his heritage, when he was playing, Watson was considered to be part of the Mexican national team, although it never happened. He was also mentioned as a candidate to coach them when he retired. He regrets that those things never materialized, but hopes to give something back to Mexico. “I want to be a part of Mexico, I always try to represent Mexico and MexicanAmericans, I’m very outspoken about my heritage, my mom raised me MexicanAmerican. If I can give inspiration and come back to Mexico and give something back to the kids I’m always excited to do it,” Watson added. Mexico needs all the basketball inspiration it can get right now. For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, there’s no Mexican players in the league. Jorge Gutierrez was the last one and he was cut by the Brooklyn Nets right before the start of this season. Gutierrez was the fourth Mexican to play in the league. Horacio Llamas was the first in 1996-1997, followed by Eduardo Najera and Gustavo Ayon. AP


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»life on the go

A9 | Sunday, January 15, 2017 • Editor: Tet Andolong

Lepa Regatta by the Sabah Tourism Board

Sun, sea and scuba in Sipadan

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By Bernard L. Supetran

SK any true-blue scuba diver his or her bucket list, and Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia, would surely be one of them. Hordes of enthusiasts, including the legendary underwater explorer and pioneer diver Jacques Cousteau, can’t be wrong in making this marine world their playground of choice.

Located at the Coral Triangle, the center to three-quarters of the world’s marine biodiversity, it is the only oceanic island in Malaysia rising 600 meters from the ocean floor. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem called the Sipadan Island Park, which was formed over thousands of years by corals growing on top of an extinct volcano. The 13.5-hectare island is a lush jungle and habitat to tropical birds, such as kingfishers, sea-eagles, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. This tell-tale patch of land off Semporna town has been declared a bird sanctuary as early as 1933 and gazetted in 2004 as a marine park. Small wonder, this underwater kingdom was vetted for the New 7 Wonders of Nature, only to be

White-tip sharks in Sipadan. SMART

edged out in the popular online voting that screened the finalists, where our very own Underground River landed a coveted spot. This, and other rather unfortunate security incidents in the past decade, didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of adventurers in exploring this underwater wonder, which offers pelagics to small critters. Upon plunging into the water, divers are instantly struck by the overwhelming number of aquatic wildlife—green and hawksbill turtles, white-tip reef sharks and assortment of fishes, only found in this part of the planet, not to mention a profusion of coral gardens. I myself lost count of the big sea turtles and white-tip sharks that crossed my path and headed for the other direction. Sipadan’s resident attractions are the schools of big-eye trevallies and barracudas, which swirl

like a spectacular whirlpool near the surface. The barracudas, which sport a fearsome look, flock by the thousands and form a vortex large enough like rainclouds blocking the sun. Colonies of enormous bumphead parrotfish swim through the Barracuda Point’s shallow portion, creating a visual spectacle. Deep down are gray reef and scalloped hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, devil rays, manta rays and octupi. Lovers of macrolife won’t be disappointed with the spotted garden eels, morays, scorpion fish, lion fish, nudibranchs,  frog fishes and leaf fishes and pygmy seahorses, to name a few. The marine park boasts of about a dozen dive sites, with the equally enchanting islands of Kapalai, which is just a heartbeat away. In between dives, called “surface interval”, you can laze at the powdery white-sand beach under the shade of the swaying palm trees. But before your foray into the underworld, adventure actually begins at the posh Sipadan Mabul Resort on Mabul Island, which will serve as your home base in exploring this tropical paradise. Monikered Smart, it is composed of the island-based nativethemed accommodations and the luxurious water bungalows that stand on stilts at the gin-clear waters of the Celebes Sea. The well-appointed bungalows, restaurant and spa of the latter is connected by a network of wooden boardwalk with gazebos, which serve as view decks and stopover sheds. Manned mostly by migrant Filipinos from Zamboanga, Smart is like a piece of the Philip-

The author swims with bumphead parrotfishes.

THE Sipadan Mabul Resort

pines with its Visayan- and Tagalog-speaking crew from the dive center, housekeeping and kitchen to management instantly making you feel at home. A Padi 5-Star Gold Palm Dive Resort, it offers a wide range of dive courses, ranging from basic to technical, or even the introductory dives for those who want to survey its house reef for mandarin fish, frogfish, pipefish, gobies, shrimps and crabs just a few feet below. Known as a dive resort, it also offers expeditions to other dive spots in Sabah. In addition to its royal Bajau architecture, the resort’s other claim to fame is its artificial reef, the biggest of its kind in the world put together and nurtured over the past two

decades by its owner Robert Lo. A junkscape of wooden frames, crates, rockpiles and motor vehicles, the man-made reef attracts a variety of marine life, which has spawned and have made it a vibrant underwater thoroughfare once more. Its most visible creatures are the large schools of juvenile barracudas, batfishes and jacks wandering through the maze. At low tide, you can kayak around the tranquil that will make you feel like the proverbial stranger on the shore. Smart also takes pride for being the home of Miss Scuba International, a unique new pageant where the advocates for the protection of the world’s marine ecosystem are chosen from a bevy of beauties who are

Turtle-egg conservation lecture

all certified divers. For the past six years now, the resort has been developing a breed of charmers to nurture the fragile oceans with coastal and underwater cleanups, coral propagation and preservation of sea turtles through efficient egg hatching. Call it “beauty with a purpose”, as another famous world pageant puts it. This is Sipadan, a sizzling blend of sun, sea and scuba, and everything in between that will snatch you out of your senses with its sheer beauty. n Getting there: Fly to Kota Kinabalu via Air Asia or Cebu Pacific, and take a connecting flight to Tawau. From there, Smart can pick you up and take you to the resort by land and sea transfer.


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»life on the go

A10 Sunday, January 15, 2017

Masbate is CebGo’s new destination

Escape to

Rodeo Masbateño. Robert Detera

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ISCOVER more of the country’s “Rodeo Capital” as CebGo, Cebu Pacific Air’s wholly-owned subsidiary, flies to Masbate starting February 15. Flight DG 6177 will fly daily from the Naia Terminal 4 at 8:20 a.m., and will return from Masbate via Flight DG 6178 at 9:50 a.m., utilizing the airline’s new ATR72-600.   “We remain firm in bringing people together through safe, affordable, reliable and fun-filled air travel. With these additional routes, travelers will now be able to visit these destinations faster while enjoying CEB’s trademark low fares. Rest assured, we will continue expanding our network to reach more passengers in and out the Philippines,” CebGo President and CEO Alexander Lao said.   He said the addition of this new route will allow passengers to easily visit this fast-rising island-province, which is strategically located in the Bicol region and near the Visayas.   Composed of three major islands, Masbate takes pride in its sprawling cattle ranches, awesome rock formations, breathtaking viewpoints, pristine whitesand beaches and sandbars, Spanish-era churches and ancestral houses, and marine sanctuaries ideal for diving and snorkeling. Its signature dive site is the Manta Bowl on Ticao Island. According to Masbate Vice Gov. Kaye Revil, the new flight is a fruit of the persis-

THE Buntod Sandbar and Marine Sanctuary in Masbate

tent requests of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the city government of Masbate via official resolutions since 2013 to provide a more affordable air-transportation alternative to the province.   She said that for the past few years, the provincial government has been pursuing tourism and promotions, special events, and has put in place the Tourism Code to entice the airline to assign an aircraft to the Masbate route.   At present, passengers usually fly to Legazpi City via Cebu Pacific for affordable flights then, take a one-hour van to Pilar

port in Sorsogon and a two-and-a-halfhour fastcraft to Masbate City.   She added their constituents mobilized social media to petition the carrier that new aircraft be flown to Masbate.   “The new flight will help boost the forthcoming Rodeo Festival, the country’s biggest cowboy-themed event that gathers ranchers from across the archipelago to showcase their skills,” she said. Revil, a tourism advocate, noted that Masbate has trended several times on social-media platforms in 2016 because of the province’s tourism push.

Miss U bets and the wow of Siargao

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his adage was proven once more when  the first batch of Miss Universe 2016 delegates recently visited  Siargao Island, dubbed as  the country’s surfing mecca, to kick off the pageant’s promotional tour around the country’s top destinations.   Miss Philippines Maxine Medina led the 12 candidates who visited the famed Cloud 9 surfing spot in General Luna town, acclaimed as the world’s eighth best surfing site by the CNN Go travel portal. Joining her were Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Htun, Miss South Korea Jenny Kim, Miss China Li Zhenying, Miss Vietnam Ngo Tra My,

Miss Universe bets at Siargao Bleu George Tapan

Miss New zealand Tania Dawson, Miss Japan Sari Nakazawa, Miss Indonesia Kezia Roslin Cikita Warouw, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Australia Caris Tiivel and Miss Malaysia Kiran Jassal. The ladies got their feet wet, quite literally, riding the waves on a surfboard and described the island’s pristine charm as “paradise-like” with its powdery sand and crystalline water. Contestants were hosted for lunch by the triple-A Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa; the provincial government of Surigao del Norte, headed by Gov. Sol Matugas; the First District Congressional Office, under Rep. Bingo Matugas; and the Department of Tourism-

Region 13, led by Officer in Charge Mary Jean Camarin. Making the whirlwind day trip more exciting is the clockwork red-carpet welcome and reception put together by the local government and private  stakeholders, led by Melot Abejo of Siargao Bleu, who only had four days to prepare for the big day. Situated by the Pacific seaboard off Surigao del Norte province in northern Mindanao, the Siargao island group is composed of nine rustic towns.   Siargao’s other attractions include Magpupungko Rock in Pilar; the 4,000-hectare mangrove forest and Sugba Cove in Del Carmen; Sohoton Cove in Socorro;

A Miss Universe candidate tries surfing.

Miss Philippines Maxine Medina George Tapan

white-sand beaches; scuba-diving sites; waterfalls; skimboarding spots; and scenic viewdecks. 

Pico de Loro Cove is the first community of Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas.

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By Reni Salvador

OP-down with hair flowing in the wind, cruise past a countryside driver’s dream of small-town roads and seaside postcard scenes from SM’s Mall of Asia to a sprawling coastal resort town along the shores of Nasugbu, Batangas.

Known today as a choice destination that highlights a variety of recreational activities amid nature’s bounty, Hamilo Coast continues to build toward its fruition, anchored on a vision of defining beach-resort living in the Philippines.

There’s still a lot more.

Hamilo Coast’s maiden development—Pico de Loro Cove—has established itself as one of the country’s top quick weekend-getaway spots and continues to grow as a vibrant community of weekend warriors who now call this tropical paradise home. Becoming a member of Pico de Loro Cove’s leisure club, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, means you can push yourself to the limits as you take on a myriad of aquatic sports, like sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and scuba diving­—or bond with nature whenever you participate in outdoor activities, like hiking, trekking and birding. However, it’s not just fun in the sun and nature pursuits at Pico de

Loro Cove. Members can also engage in a plethora of leisure recreation at the seaside community—billiards, bowling, basketball, tennis, badminton, squash and swimming. Of course, some might prefer belting their vocal muscles through a favorite Filipino pastime—taking turns at the videoke. Even then, some choose to see Pico de Loro Cove’s pristine, whitesand beach as their backyard. Designed for individuals and families with dynamic lifestyles, savor a more laid-back manner of destressing at Pico de Loro Cove’s residential beach homes. Pico de Loro Cove highlights its Lagoon Property Series, featuring residential beach condominiums distributed in four residential clusters—Jacana, Myna, Carola and Miranda. Perfect for families that treasure laughter and bonding moments, modern and wellappointed three-bedroom corner suites and penthouse lofts, with sizes ranging from 134 to 209 square meters, sit atop Pico de


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»life on the go Editor: Tet Andolong | Sunday, January 15, 2017 A11

your seaside address

Castro

At the forefront of medical tourism

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S the world’s economy starts to gravitate towards Asia, more and more global companies are exploring opportunities in the region. This will bring about an influx of expatriates who will actively seek investment prospects in the country. Among the various industries poised for growth in the country, medical and wellness tourism gains focus as 1 of the most sustainable growth areas. However, according to National Competitiveness Council, to become one of the top 3 most desired Asian destinations for global health and wellness seekers, the Philippines has to attract 1 million clients for medical tourism, 2 million for the wellness sector and 200,000 retirees for long-term health care. While there are several challenges to achieve this goal, experts identified the presence of a progressive health system, developed physical infrastructure and stable political environment as the key requirements in making medical tourism a viable growth strategy for the nation. While much is dependent on the systems that the government will put into place to improve the delivery of health-care services whether to locals or tourists, the private sector, in the meantime, can focus on helping develop the physical infrastructure to globally ready levels. In the Philippines one team is making its mark in the project management of topnotch facilities in the health-care industry: the SPCastro Inc. (SPCI), a dynamic project and construction-management company.

Philippine health-care institutions among the best in the world Pico de Loro Cove’s three-bedroom Corner Suite features an openarchitectural design, maximizing the sea and nature views of the property.

Pico de Loro Cove highlights its Lagoon Property Series featuring worry-free beach condominium unit.

Loro Cove’s expansive 4 hectare man-made lagoon. You’ll find the perfect beach home the moment you set your heart on it: each unit is turnkey-ready for occupancy; telephone, cable- and Internet-ready with 100-percent backup power, as well. Complemented by top-line property management and security, beach homes

The three-bedroom Penthouse Loft at Pico de Loro Cove is a bilevel unit, providing sweeping views of the lagoon and lush mountains from both level.

at Pico de Loro Cove are virtually worryfree­— allowing you to just lock up and leave your units when you make that difficult decision to go back to the city. Not to mention, a sound alternative investment for those who want both utility and returns. These ready-for-occupancy units can be the perfect seaside address for you. Discover

Pico de Loro Cove at Hamilo Coast and celebrate the coastal lifestyle like no other. Pico de Loro Cove is the maiden community of Hamilo Coast, the SM Group’s beach resort town in Nasugbu, Batangas. Hamilo Coast is no approximately 90 minutes from Manila via Cavitex and the new Ternate-Nasugbu Road. Visit www.hamilocoast.com.

In 2015 the Philippines was ranked eighth among the top medical tourism destinations in the world, according to a list compiled by the International Healthcare Research Center and the Medical Tourism Association. And as of the Department of Health’s (DOH) latest count, 62 hospitals around the country are now internationally accredited. To date, five Philippine medical institutions, namely, Asian Hospital and Medical Center (Muntinlupa City); Makati Medical Center (Makati City); St. Luke’s Medical Center (Global City and Quezon City); and The Medical City (Pasig City), have been certified as institutions for excellent medical care by the Joint Commission International (JCI)—one of the patient safety and quality health-care accreditation and certification bodies in the world. Aside from boasting of excellent medical care, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City also demonstrates aesthetic superiority, as it placed 11th among 25 in USbased magazine Healthcare Management News and Insights’s list of the most beautiful hospitals in the world.

Behind some of the best health-care facilities in the country

Interestingly, three of the five top hospitals in the country have been completed or renovated under the project management of SPCI. SPCI’s entry into the healthcare facilities industry began in 2000 with the training and orientation given by Stanford University Medical Center’s Louis C. Saksen, then vice president for general services and radiology, on healthcare planning, design, construction and facilities management. SPCI took over the project and construction management of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC), which opened in 2002 as the first hospital in the Philippines to be designed and constructed in compliance with the JCIA’s Facility Management and Safety Standards. Since its founding in 1986, SPCI has been producing worldclass health-care facilities and has, thus, been carving its name in the industry. At present, SPCI takes pride in being accepted as member of the American Hospital Association and being the only company from the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam listed in the AHA Directory of Planning and Design Professionals for Health Facilities.

Showcasing PHL best practices to the region

During the third Asia Healthcare Summit in Singapore held in May 2016, SPCI brought the limelight to the Philippines as its Chairman and President Salvador P. Castro Jr. was appointed as the moderator and acting chairman of the three-day summit. More than 200 attendees from 22 countries and 70 expert speakers convened to discuss current issues being faced in global health care, government health-care policies related to infrastructure, partnership and investment opportunities, and new designs and builds of world-class facilities, among others. A case study presented on the second day of the summit was on the Excellent Healthcare Innovations in a World Class Hospital. St. Luke’s Medical Center Vice President and Head of Industry Relations and Special Projects Josephine Aguilar, who did the presentation during the summit, emphasized that health-care services need not be only centered on stateof-the-art facilities but also on understanding the needs, of patients, making such services affordable and accessible, and how patients are treated with utmost considerations of their needs, as well. Castro shared, “Our country has so much potential both in terms of knowledge base and in the talent pool. Given the appropriate resource allocations and right opportunities, I am certain that we can make mark not only in healthcare facility development, but in the project management for other industries, as well.”


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A12 Sunday, January 15, 2017

Editor: Tet Andolong

‘Beach, please: The world’s best island idylls are here’

Soak in crystal-clear waters by day, plunge into parties by night. Charming Boracay emerged as the best island in the world in Condé Nast’s 2016 reader survey, and postcard-perfect sceneries like this prove it. Lonely Planet

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THE TOURISM ADVOCATE

AST month Cebu, Palawan and Boracay made it to Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the 20 “Best Islands in the World” outside the United States, as ranked by readers for its 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards survey. While the magazine’s travel experts predicted that South America would take off as the next travel hot spot beginning this year, the results of the survey revealed a varied mix of destinations around North America, Europe, the Caribbean and, of course, Southeast Asia. This news came at the most opportune time, given that we needed something to remedy the beating that our country’s tourism industry has been getting in the recent years: persistent ter-

rorist threats and security issues; the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) being tagged as the worst airport in the world; and, most notably, the bullet-planting fiasco (tanim-bala) that certainly harassed and hassled both our local and foreign tourists. For me, this recognition does more than just secure our place on the map, as the three islands have been among the most popular Philippine destinations that gather significant numbers of tourists all-year round. Rather,

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Palawan’s most recent claim to fame, catapulted the island to second best on Condé Nast’s list. Its limestone karst mountain landscape and 8.2-kilometer river system earned it a spot in the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Backpacking Pilipinas

Aside from the popular mainland beaches of Cebu, the province is also dotted by smaller islands with equally stunning seascapes. One of them is the tiny Bantayan Island, which enchants visitors with its immaculate shoreline, powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters. ETA Travel and Tours

it’s more about cementing the Philippines’s status as a reputable, world-class destination that can only get better, provided we pursue the best global practices that industry insiders like Condé Nast Traveler alert us to.

popular of its powdery beaches, is often brimming with travelers wanting to experience soaking in its famous azure waters, and basking in the opulence of its high-end resort hotels, such as The District Boracay and Ambassador in Paradise.

Slices of tropical paradise

A quick look at the list tells us that adventure-hungry travelers all want a slice of paradise offered by the winning islands, and it’s a global trend that’s here to stay. With the majority of the islands boasting of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and palm-lined shores, it’s easy to see why three of our own have made it to the list—and dominated the top 5 spots at that! Cebu, which ranked fifth on the list, charmed readers for the beaches in its mainland and the surrounding islands and for being “more personal, with plenty of up-and-coming restaurants and shopping”. To create a luxurious experience, the island has also become home to a number

of award-winning luxury hotels and resorts, such as Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, and Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. Known for its white-sand beaches, limestone formations and exquisite diving spots, Palawan shot to the top of the list again and landed at the second spot this year, and Condé Nast attributes this to a “recent claim to fame”: being home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. For its own share of idyllic luxury, the island is also dotted with a number of upscale accommodations, with Amanpulo and Dos Palmas Resort the top choices for discerning travelers seeking privacy and comfort. Hailed as the best island in the world is the itty-bitty island of Boracay, whose gentle coastlines, transporting sunsets and thriving nightlife scene draw international visitors by the thousands every month. White Beach, the biggest and most

Tailor-fit travel trends

My dream—and I’m sure I share this with many of my ardent fellow travelers—is that this Condé Nast recognition can be the start of our local travel industry tailor-fitting global trends to the best that our country has to offer, instead of just merely following the ones everyone else has been doing. A lot of the trends experts predicted for this year involved seeking new experiences; increased spending by travelers who believe it’s worth it; and staying connected while on the go. All of these resonate to our country’s young, well-informed and technology-driven travelers, who, as I mentioned in my previous columns, are now keen on

more than just sight-seeing and putting premium price tags on life-changing adventures. Cebu, Palawan and Boracay are all great cases in point. Condé Nast’s list showcases them in the good company of the world’s most sought-after destinations, yet they all have certain characters that set them apart from each other. Vibrant Cebu, for example, has become known for hosting an eclectic mix of bustling city life and tranquil vacations. Palawan, on the other hand, is regarded as a sanctuary for marine biodiversity and natural attractions. And last, festive Boracay delights beachgoers, island hoppers and party people. The Philippines has a lot more to offer, and I believe we should always be looking for ways to build on these accolades to highlight the many other unique experiences and postcard-worthy landscapes that await travelers from all over the world. After all, they’re only getting started with three of our 7,107 islands.


Businessmirror january 15, 2017